Needles, Wool, Mistakes, Advice and the One Tip - Nicola Long from Fell View Felting

1. How did you discover needle felting, what inspired you to have a go and what was the first thing you made? 

I discovered needle felting during a visit to the fantastic Woolfest event in Cockermouth, in 2013. I was fascinated by the process and did a lot of online research into it, but didn’t actually have a go until 3 years later, when I was looking for a craft to help my recovery after breaking both wrists! My first make was a sheep brooch – living in Cumbria I am inspired by the countryside and the animals I see there.

2. Do you have a favourite needle felting artist whose work you follow?

I follow several fellow needle felters, and particularly admire the amazingly detailed work of Nicky Heard.

3. Which projects do you find the trickiest and what has been the hardest thing to learn?

The trickiest projects are my 2D wool paintings, which I developed during the first lockdown. Most of my paintings feature Herdwick Sheep but my latest one of a red squirrel on a mossy branch was the most difficult to date. Making the fur and moss look realistic was a real challenge.

4. What are your favourite needles to use?

My favourite needles are size 40 and 42 triangular needles, and when felting 3D items I use them in a three needle holder which speeds up the felting process.

5. What is your favourite type of wool to work with?

My favourite wool is carded wool batts, from The Felt Box of course! The texture is ideal for creating both 3D and 2D items. I also use Herdwick and Swaledale wool, sourced and gleaned locally here in Cumbria

6. What is the worst piece of advice you keep hearing for needle felters?

The worst piece of advice for new needle felters is to use merino wool. The long silky fibres are great for details but not for creating a firm result.

7. What common mistakes do people make when they start out?

The most common mistake, and one which I made as a beginner, is to not felt firmly enough, and to try to felt too much wool in one go. When building up a 3D piece, I do it in layers, making sure I have felted each layer enough before adding more wool. Another mistake is to stab too hard and too deeply, which can also lead to very painful fingers! Having lots of patience is a definite bonus.

8. What is the one thing a beginner could learn today that would  make a difference to their work?

I think the one thing a beginner could do to make a difference to their work is to find a theme that really inspires them, and that is a bit different from what others are doing. The Cumbrian landscape and its resident animals are very close to my heart and provide me with endless ideas, and I will never get bored with depicting them in wool!

About the artist:  

To find her creations, you may click the links below